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 Post subject: Modern Kozilek Card Advantage (An Introduction)
AgePosted: 2014-Feb-06 11:53 pm 

Joined: 2014-Feb-06 3:07 pm
Age: Drake
Hello. I call myself Taz, and since I'm new here, I'd like to give a backdrop on my experience with Commander thus far as a means of introducing myself.

It all started in a LGS in Florida. The original Commander pre-cons had just been released. I had heard of EDH before, but it seemed a bit too much of an eccentric's format for my tastes. 100 cards? No more than 1 copy of any non-Basic/Relentless Rats card? Nearly everything ever printed is legal? Ever? Sol Ring? I had only started Magic with Zendikar! However, the pre-cons offered me an easy way into the non-rotating format--with guaranteed inclusions of staples like Sol Ring and the then-new Command Tower in every box--and conveniently after a time when I had been burned by Standard. Cards I wanted to play were too expensive for my tastes (we're not even talking Jaces here--more like Vensers, to give you an idea of what my usual budget/playstyle is like), and Scars of Brokkedin had proven to be almost as format-warping as its original namesake. And the upcoming block was being based on horror tropes? Blech, no thank you! One RWU box, please!

Of course, being me I couldn't just simply keep the contents of the deck as it was. Heck, I couldn't even keep it in the exact same colors! This is Magic, and to me, the most fun of Magic comes from constructing the deck! No, I had other plans. I was obsessed with the idea of Knight tribal. (I still kind of am.) No, even before Knight Exemplar came out (though to say I was excited about Knight Exemplar's release would be a bit of an understatement). And what Legendary Knight is more fitting to lead this deck than . . . of course, Rafiq of the Many! So I built my monolith of Bant Knights, scraping all Red CI cards from the pre-con and searching to match them with their Green equivalents. Once I finished sleeving up and joined the games of this eccentric format, I'd play . . . only to find not only that I lose, but quickly and consistently over several games. I'd only later find out that playing Rafiq at all, because of his reputation, painted a gigantic target on my forehead, often leaving me out in the cold in this game of politics. I hated politics. (I still do, not even kind of.)

Of course, I adapted pretty predictably to this sort of pressure. I obtained Norn's Annex in addition to the Propaganda and Ghostly Prison I had already gotten, I'd go full pillow-fort with Privileged Position and Asceticism, I'd cut my Knights in favor of the more predictable Voltron favor expected of Rafiq (even going so far as adding Might of Oaks to surprise OHKO someone I didn't like). Eventually, as this chimera of a deck evolved, I'd found that the deck had completely lost anything even sort of resembling focus, and was looking more and more like a Bant "good-stuff-that-I-happen-to-have" deck over time than anything else. As such, I decided to retire all efforts toward the deck (eventually dismantling it to make room for the deck in this thread) and try something different . . .

Sir Shandlar of Eberyn! If at first you don't succeed, right? He was given to me as a gift and a tongue-in-cheek note about my obsession with Knights. I even gave myself an all-common restriction which, when combined with the deck's one fewer color, made deck construction and card acquisition a breeze. No, this deck was very much not meant to win so much as a way of sticking around games long enough to learn what works and what doesn't. (How much less of a threat can you be than Sir Shandlar in those colors?) I had already been killed enough times as Rafiq while trying to draw attention to the obvious combo player about to win to know that combo is a thing, but even the combo players didn't seem to like that fact that much. There had to be something, though, even beyond all the combos, that made this format tick.

Of course, leaning on an aggro Knights strategy I found that I never even made any impact on the game, other than annoying the person I'd inevitably have to attack (reducing life totals to 0 is how you win games guys, right?) and the off-chance that I'd end up with Allay in hand and end up playing pseudo-police. Playing my Knights ended up just walking them into board wipe after board wipe after board wipe until somebody secured their combo kill. Maybe this just wasn't the format for me?

Then it dawned on me why "aggro" is widely regarded as "bad" in the format. Sure, the double-life triple-opponent factor was obvious enough that anybody could tell you that, but shouldn't combo be similarly disadvantaged by the format's singleton nature? But no, this was--is--a format of resources and attrition--and routinely losing three Knights to an errant Wrath of God is a pretty obvious way to suffer attrition. Card advantage, I'd come to realize, is king in this format . . . and unfortunately for me, I play White. It was at that point that I decided to go back to basics--or non-Basics, as it were--and figure out how to generate as much card advantage as I can outside of any color identity. Thus, the project of constructing this deck was born.

(Side note: I believe that aggro is still playable, albeit not even remotely in the traditional sense. A wanna-be aggro deck simply has to also obey the principles of card advantage like everybody else in order to be viable, unlike in other formats. I have since made a low-curve Tajic, Blade of the Legion aggro list that I would totally love to build, if I could even remotely afford all the cards in it!)

This deck was made with a few restrictions on it, to make things simpler for myself. As noted in the thread title, only cards that have been printed in Modern sets are being included. Note 1: This does not include supplemental products, so no Sol Ring. Note 2: This deck observes Commander's ban list as opposed to Modern's. This is notable because Skullclamp's inclusion proved to warp deck construction somewhat.

Furthermore, this deck followed an admittedly loose budget of "no card more expensive than Sensei's Divining Top," with few exceptions taken where deemed necessary (most notably Kozilek's cousin Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre; as a side note, I had already owned Kozilek itself for my old Rafiq deck, so whether that can be counted as an exception is perhaps moot). This ultimately barred three cards from consideration: Crucible of Worlds, Karn Liberated, and Umezawa's Jitte.

(Note: Cards in earlier lists may also apply to later lists, but cards in later lists do not apply to earlier lists.)

Commander: Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Lands (36):
1 Blinkmoth Nexus
1 Blinkmoth Well
1 Buried Ruin
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Cloudpost
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Desert
1 Dread Statuary
1 Eldrazi Temple
1 Encroaching Wastes
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Gargoyle Castle
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Glimmerpost
1 Haunted Fengraf
1 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Mutavault
1 Mystifying Maze
1 Phyrexia's Core
1 Quicksand
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Rogue's Passage
1 Seraph Sanctuary
1 Springjack Pasture
1 Stalking Stones
1 Swarmyard
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Unknown Shores
1 Urza's Factory
1 Urza's Mine
1 Urza's Power Plant
1 Urza's Tower
1 Vesuva
1 Zoetic Cavern

Other Mana (17):
1 Blinkmoth Urn
1 Clock of Omens
1 Cloud Key
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Dreamstone Hedron
1 Doubling Cube
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Gemstone Array
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Krark-Clan Ironworks
1 Lotus Bloom
1 Mind Stone
1 Mox Opal
1 Palladium Myr
1 Pristine Talisman
1 Voltaic Key

Proliferate Package (7):
1 Contagion Engine
1 Coretapper
1 Darksteel Reactor
1 Dross Scorpion
1 Pentavus
1 Throne of Geth
1 Triskelavus

Skullclamp Abuse Package (4):
1 Myr Turbine
1 Nuisance Engine
1 Skullclamp
1 Trading Post

Deck Manipulation Package (6):
1 Crystal Ball
1 Expedition Map
1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
1 Planar Portal
1 Ring of Three Wishes
1 Sensei's Divining Top

Voltron Package (5):
1 Fireshrieker
1 Hedron Matrix
1 Inquisitor's Flail
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Loxodon Warhammer

Hate Package (12):
1 All is Dust
1 Farsight Mask
1 Glaring Spotlight
1 Jester's Cap
1 Mimic Vat
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Torpor Orb
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Witchbane Orb

Doubling Package (4):
1 Mirrorworks
1 Rings of Brighthearth
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Strionic Resonator

Other Creatures (5):
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 It That Betrays
1 Myr Retriever
1 Psychosis Crawler
1 Shimmer Myr

Other Card Advantage (3):
1 Mind's Eye
1 Staff of Domination
1 Staff of Nin

The deck's game plan, at it's core, is simple enough: cast Kozilek, and draw cards (in either order). While this deck does come equipped with a few Voltron-style cards to punish players for not answering Kozilek, one should fully expect it to be countered, exiled, or killed before it can even try turning sideways--and that's perfectly fine. You should happily send Kozilek back to the Command zone and cast it once more when able, earning you another four cards. Getting tucked is slightly more annoying, but with all the cards that this deck is designed to generate (and not to mention cards like Eye of Ugin), it should be a minor setback at best. (In fact, with Eye of Ugin out, you may or may not find it favorable to simply send Kozilek to the graveyard and tutor it back up again, if you wish to avoid an excessive Commander Tax.)

If you can manage to stay ahead of your opponents on cards this way, there are a few ways you can bring the game to an end, most of them brilliantly fragile and convoluted in the spirit of the format. (Didn't somebody once say that the objective of EDH is to be Dr. Evil?) The first one is rather simple though: draw more cards! Psychosis Crawler can do a half-decent Purphoros impersonation (while being all hipster about coming first) once you get a decent flow of cards going, and once you find your Reliquary Tower in particular, it can threaten a large body to speed up the process significantly.

Another way of grinding out a win is exploiting casting Kozilek over and over again until your opponents eventually run out of answers to Kozilek. At that point, you can simply suit up 22+ points of Eldrazi Commander damage (with a side of Annihilator 4) to throw at your foes until you're the last player standing.

Here's one for the Johnnies in the audience, though: the observant among you may have noticed a Darksteel Reactor lurking in the list. Admittedly, the deck does come with a couple of infinite mana combos (most of them involving Everflowing Chalice, fittingly enough), but did you notice the infinite Proliferate combo? (Most of it is spelled out in the "Proliferate Package" section.) Here's the setup: Dross Scorpion, Throne of Geth, a fresh Pentavus or Triskelavus, and Gemstone Array with at least two charge counters. Remove a charge counter from the Array to pay for a Pent-/Triskelavite, which you sac to Throne of Geth, triggering Dross Scorpion to untap the Throne. This lets you Proliferate, putting counters back on Gemstone Array and the -avus, thus bringing you full circle while you put as many counters as you want on whatever you please--and what better way to use this than to win the game outright? Most simply, this just means already having Darksteel Reactor in play for a while, but the dream would be Proliferating Everflowing Chalice 1000 times and tapping it to draw your deck with Staff of Domination, playing the Reactor and Coretapper, immediately saccing the Myr to the Reactor, and finally proliferating 18 more times for the win. (Alternatively, you could simply kill everyone with Psychosis Crawler triggers, but that's boring and assumes that nobody has been going insane with the life gain.)

I currently live on the outskirts of Nowhere, GA. There used to be a LGS here, but tragically it closed down on my birthday last November, and now the closest store that does Magic events is a good 20 miles away. The completionist in me is extremely disappointed at missing out on Step 5 of the Hero's Path promotion WotC is putting on, but fact of the matter is that it's financially prohibitive to drive out that way two weekends in a row. Anyway, I don't exactly have a single metagame I'm playing against, but I have clearly included cards as nods to powerful strategies I've had to deal with in the past.

For all intents and purposes, this deck is an evolving work in progress. Even as I was acquiring cards for this deck, the list was still evolving to the form you see now, and once I get a good sample size of games to note what works and what doesn't, it will continue to evolve in the future. While I do intend to eventually expand the scope of this deck to every Colorless CI card not on the Reserved list or the Commander ban list (i.e. add stuff like Sol Ring to it), the deck currently already has a "maybeboard" consisting of 71 cards from Modern sets (several of them grouped into different themes!), in addition to the 3 cards excluded from the deck for being too pricey.

Notably, if I find a large enough number of cards in this deck to be underperforming after getting enough games under its belt, I am strongly considering adding mill to this deck's list of win conditions, as there certainly exist enough Colorless cards to support it even in Modern alone. (Note: there are no milling cards in my aforementioned maybeboard as of yet . . . yeah . . .) I am aware that I would be foiled by, for example, the very Eldrazi that I play, but if I were to go this route I could simply run more graveyard hate to support it--and if you were to ask me, running more graveyard hate is never a bad thing in this format.

The super long-term goal of this deck may surprise you: adding color! Once I manage to squeeze as many cards as I can out of no colors at all, I intend to exploit this knowledge to aid in my construction of 1-and-2-color decks (and maybe even 3-color--as a player, I really like the mechanics on Marath, Will of the Wild). Even in a mono-White deck (which is the next step I would want to take), finally being able to get some legitimate use out of cards like Journeyer's Kite and Solemn Simulacrum would be a welcome change of pace from being forced to skip over such cards for Kozilek. As I don't intend to keep many (I still have that Sir Shandlar deck I mentioned in the Prologue kept separate, since I can afford to do that with an all-common deck) separate decks, I basically intend to build these additional colors on top of the Kozilek deck--their lists will be separate, but they will be sharing cards as I decide which among them I would like to play.

As I mentioned in the Prologue, I already have an extensive Tajic, Blade of the Legion list (that may or may not need updating by now), but I also have a first-draft Ashling the Pilgrim list (which was basically "inspired" by the 99 Mountain list, but created out of frustration at how sub-optimal that list is, even for its own strategy) as well as an updated Sir Shandlar of Eberyn all-common list (which I actually intend to procure the remaining cards for some time in the near future). However, I don't actually intend to build the first two decks any time soon (mostly because they use Mana Crypt). Is it socially acceptable if I were to post unbuilt lists such as those when and where they felt appropriate, or is it preferred that I actually have most of the cards in question first? What about if I were responding to somebody else's thread about one of those respective generals?

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Kozilek Card Advantage (An Introduction)
AgePosted: 2014-Feb-07 6:24 am 
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Joined: 2009-Aug-20 7:49 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: New Hampshire
Welcome to the boards! I'll answer the last questions first;

Knightaru wrote:
As I mentioned in the Prologue, I already have an extensive Tajic, Blade of the Legion list (that may or may not need updating by now), but I also have a first-draft Ashling the Pilgrim list (which was basically "inspired" by the 99 Mountain list, but created out of frustration at how sub-optimal that list is, even for its own strategy) as well as an updated Sir Shandlar of Eberyn all-common list (which I actually intend to procure the remaining cards for some time in the near future). However, I don't actually intend to build the first two decks any time soon (mostly because they use Mana Crypt). Is it socially acceptable if I were to post unbuilt lists such as those when and where they felt appropriate, or is it preferred that I actually have most of the cards in question first? What about if I were responding to somebody else's thread about one of those respective generals?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to post lists for discussion - they're just that - lists. No one from the EDH forums is going to come around to make sure your decks are real. Also I'd like to point out that "I don't have Mana Crypts" is a terribad reason not to build a deck, especially a new one you want to try out. Substitute something else and throw it together. At worst, you'll draw your random other mana rock and think "I wish this were Mana Crypt". At best, you may find you don't really want the crypt at all.

Love the proliferate combo. Dross Scorpion is one of my all-time favorites. Original Mirrodin block was just ridiculous.

Prolly add Swiftfoot Boots as redundancy for Lightning Greaves - with a general as terrifying as Kozy, haste is a big deal, as is having untargetability.

I'm not sold on the Lotus Bloom - I hate having to wait 3 turns for a one-shot effect that you're not even really set up to recur efficiently, and this deck doesn't care about storm or anything like that.

"The President's job - and if someone sufficiently vain and stupid is picked he won't realize this - is not to wield power, but to draw attention away from it." -- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide tot he Galaxy Radio Transcripts predicting the future.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Kozilek Card Advantage (An Introduction)
AgePosted: 2014-Feb-07 7:11 am 
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Joined: 2012-Nov-27 4:39 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Midgard
Say, I couldn't help but notice there doesn't seem to be a Prototype Portal in this list--you need one! One of the best things you can do with it is imprint Lotus Bloom for a free Black Lotus every of your turns. I've thrown on Voltaic Key once for tons of untapping. There's just a lot of things which can go onto this thing and go crazy.

Good luck with your list!

Decklists are posted here. They can all be found in the Decklist Forum.

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Kozilek Card Advantage (An Introduction)
AgePosted: 2014-Feb-07 11:34 am 
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Joined: 2013-May-29 9:57 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Atlanta, GA
Mirrodin can go to hell. I can go to hell and it can gatdam die. Broken-assed block. #TeamPhyrexia

Anyway, it's kind of hard to suggest cards for colorless EDH decks because there are only so many that aren't staples or underwhelming. Still, there are always a few worth throwing out.

You said that Kozzy tends to bite the dust as soon as he hits. While you may have designed your deck to play around this, it probably couldn't hurt to throw in Not of this World. The best kinds of counterspells are the ones you can cast while tapped out.

Fireshrieker could probably get upgraded to Grappling Hook. It's not amazingly better or anything, but it adds a little bit of extra utility. Echo adding Swiftfoot Boots, and possibly Sword of Vengeance, though you shouldn't really need that one too much. Darksteel Plate might also be worth including also.

Blightsteel Colossus adds a wincon that syncs up with what you're more or less trying to do. At the very least, it forces an opponent to burn a StP. Also, unlike Ulamog, he only shuffles himself back in. This actually seems pretty relevant, as you do have some graveyard interaction going on.

You seem to have most of your colorless card advantage options locked in. The only one I can particularly suggest would be Tower of Fortunes, but it's hardly great most of the time. Angelheart Vial might work since it syncs up with your proliferate stuff. If you want to push that proliferate engine further, Contagion Clasp might be worth an inclusion.

"Expect nothing but scorn, flattery, and lies. And never turn your back on him." - The Northern Paladin

Bladewing the Risen - MTG: Blood Dragon - OST by Powerglove
Dosan the Falling Leaf - Mono-Green Accelerator
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter - Feed it to Vish
Toshiro Umezawa - Budget Creatureless
Prossh, Skyraider of Kher - Combo Jund
Marath, Will of the Wild - Beast-Mode Tribal
Scion of the Ur-Dragon - Mortal Combat Dredge
Kamahl & Jeska - Tag Team Voltron

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 Post subject: Re: Modern Kozilek Card Advantage (An Introduction)
AgePosted: 2014-Feb-08 9:04 pm 

Joined: 2014-Feb-06 3:07 pm
Age: Drake
Thank you for the feedback everyone!

The next time I make a revision to the deck list, I'll resolve to add Swiftfoot Boots and Sword of Vengeance; to be frank, I am shocked that I didn't think of that Sword sooner, since it's basically an all-in-one Voltron package! I'd probably replace Loxodon Warhammer with it, then find some way to fit Basilisk Collar in on top of it.

Unlike the above two items, Prototype Portal was actually already under consideration, but to be frank, I do not like the card disadvantage inherent to Imprinting your own cards; I'd basically need to activate it twice to break even on something like a mana rock, and either way the original Artifact effectively remains in exile for the rest of the game. Of course, I'm aware that the game isn't likely to last long enough for that to be important, but that is something that bugs me in the back of my mind about that card.

Contagion Clasp was also under consideration, but it does feel a little underwhelming for what it does when compared to the Engine.

The extra utility Grappling Hook offers is not worth twice the Equip cost of Fireshrieker, in my opinion. Mind you, I love what Grappling Hook does and that it exists, but every time I play it it always feels too unwieldy to be worthwhile.

Blightsteel Colossus will never appear in any of my decks. Long story short, I have principles. (I'll probably make a thread some time later explaining said principles in the Rules Discussion forum . . .)

Sun Droplet was under consideration for the off-chance that I wanted to add a (Colorless!) life-gain subtheme with Well of Lost Dreams. (Well of Lost Dreams was actually on an earlier draft of this list for the longest time, until I noticed how few actual life-gain cards to support it were making the cut.) With that in mind, I am disappointed in myself for overlooking Angelheart Vial, which actually contributes more to this deck's game plan than Sun Droplet does (especially if I were to put in an Unwinding Clock). Of course, I will be considering the Vial far above the Droplet now.

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